Such a course of culture as has been described, of course, could not fail to establish in time a large number of varieties of sheep. Individual tastes and preferences; the varied practice of individuals; many men being of many minds; differences of climate, of pasture, of soils even, and other environments, it may be sure must necessarily lead to the growth of distinct varieties of sheep. This happened some centuries ago, and even then the germs of the present existing breeds became differentiated as local varieties, best adpted to the conditions in which they were bred, fed, and reared. For we must take notice that these three elements of variation in sheep are profoundly effective in fixing types on the animals concerned. We may take the English breeds as the leading example of this principle, as to numbers of instances, while the American Merino and that of the French, the Spanish and the Saxony sheep of this class, not being missed, but taken as included in our own bright example of successful breeding, the American Merino. Doubtless we may not easily think too highly of the Spanish Merino from which our native breed was first originated, for this breed may be said, as was said by the great Napoleon of the pyramids of Egypt, "forty centuries look down" upon us, when we consider the Merino of Spain. But as that unfortunate nation has gone down in the scale of history, after a glorious past, which we can never forget, so the Spanish Merino sheep, greatly useful in its time, has gone out of history, which has swiftly passed on before it and left it to be forgotten as the present factor in the study of the modern sheep.
Let us begin our classification with this remarkable example of American enterprise and skillful culture, and the effect of its environments upon this susceptible animal.
[Illustration: American Merino Rams. Bred by E. Peck & Sons, Geneva, Ill. First prize yearlings at World's Fair.]
It was in the year 1801, four years now short of a century, that Mr. DeLessert, a French banker, owning a farm near Kingston in the State of New York, imported a single sheep, one of four shipped from Spain, three of which died on the passage. Mr. Seth Adams of Massachusetts the same year with better fortune imported a pair from France, and probably of pure Spanish extraction and blood, as the French Merino specially was not then in existence, but about to become so only as a special product of pure Spanish blood under French culture. The next year two pairs were sent from France by Mr. Livingston, our Minister to that country, to his estate on the Hudson river in New York. The most important importation, however, was made in this same year by Mr. Humphreys, our Minister to Spain, who brought home with him two hundred. Seven years later our Minister to Portugal, Mr. Wm. Jarvis of Vermont, sent home large flocks, and still more in the two years after. All these sheep were procured under the most favorable circumstances, and were the best specimens of the best flocks that could be selected.
After these other shipments were made but none of importance. These sheep, soon naturalized, throve exceedingly, the produce soon greatly exceeded the original flocks in product of wool and general stamina of constitution, and there are several flocks now existing in the United States in which the pure blood, unmixed by any other, still flows.
The number of sheep thus imported amounted to 3,850 head and were made up of the finest of the Spanish flocks that were confiscated by the Spanish Government, as one of the penalties of political offences by four leading Spanish noblemen. There could not have been any more favorable opportunity of thus practically transferring the best blood of the Spanish flocks to a new country and location; and this turned out to be by virtue of the favorable soil and climate, as well as of the energy and enterprise of the New England and New York breeders; and thus the successful transplanting of the flocks of Spain was accomplished. The foundation of the best breed of Merinos in the world was thus laid on the most favorable soil, and has been built upon by the native skill and aptitude of the American shepherds still further with most satisfactory results.
[Illustration: The Vermont Spanish Merino. As bred by E. N. Bissell, East Shoreham, Vt. (Ben Harrison 2nd, and 2 yrs. old ewe.)]
A combination of circumstances, however, soon combined to bring on a disastrous speculation, by which, first, the prices of wool advancing on account of the war of 1812, led to an equivalent advance in the value of these sheep. Wool sold for $2.50 a pound, and sheep brought a thousand dollars for ewes, and fifteen hundred for rams. As soon as the war ended, in 1815, of course the sustaining prop to this speculation gave way, and sheep that had been purchased at these high prices were unsalable at one dollar a head. This is only one instance of the many that have occurred of the injury done to the most intrinsically valuable interests by senseless speculation, in which the cursed thirst for wealth leads men to lose their heads, and not only to ruin themselves but overwhelm the most valuable and important business interest in temporary disaster. This is especially true of the sheep, which has been all through its civilized history a sort of foot ball for politicians, sometimes protected unduly, when it becomes an object for the frantic antics of the speculator; then after a time of excessive inflation a collapse comes by reason of its abandonment to the competition of the rest of the world, in which it is sacrificed with as senseless want of judgment as in the previous instance of its undue speculative inflation. The history of the Merino is a most conspicuous instance of this unwise and wholly destructive course of public policy. It would seem to be the wise part to either leave the sheep alone to work out their own destiny in competition with the world, or to adopt such a wise policy as would ensure due protection to this important source of wealth, and at the same time produce an adequate revenue for the government from imports of wool and woolens, and adhere to this for a term of twenty-five or forty years, during which this great interest might have become so firmly fixed and established, that if it were
thought desirable it might gradually be left to support itself. This has been the course of the British Government, whose policy heretofore has been the strictest protection of native industries, not only by tariffs but by the severest laws, even so far as capital punishment, for transgressors of these laws. For it is only recently that the English statutes, by which hanging was made the penalty for stealing a sheep, and equally severe penalties were inflicted upon those who violated the statutes made forbidding importations or exportation of the products of the flocks, were modified or repealed. And to show the high consideration in which this interest of the shepherd was held, the seat of the highest judicial functionary in England was a woolsack, and even at the present time the seat of the Lord Chancellor of Great Britain is called the woolsack. This is only one of the methods by which the British Empire has attained its vast power, and its citizens their enormous wealth, by which their government dominates the world, and the British flag floats over every prominent location for a fortress; and as the earth turns in its daily course the sun shines continuously on it somewhere. Truly, in the infancy of what is in time to be--if only true wisdom is its guide--the greatest civilized nation on the face of the earth, the American people, should not cast aside the universal experience of the past during which every great empire has laid the foundation for its wealth and consequent power by a due policy of protection of its own interests.
The result of the best breeding of this race of sheep has been marked by a continuous improvement. The weight of the carcass has been increased twenty-five per cent. Its form has been improved in that way by which the yield of the fleece has been doubled; the legs have been shortened and the back broadened at least one-third, the wool producing surface thus being increased, while the density of the wool on the skin is greater. As a wool-bearer this breed has been greatly improved, while the mutton has been made more marketable. And as a sire for market lambs the American Merino, crossed on the Southdown or Shropshire ewe, has been found to excel all others.
The American Merino should have a round, well filled up carcass. Evenly proportioned as to length with the plump, round barrel, and deep chest and flanks. The back is straight and broad; the neck is short and deep; the head short and broad on the forehead. The legs are short, widely placed, strong, with a full forearm and twist. The skin is of a clear pink in color, mellow to the touch and loosely held on the body. Paleness of the skin is an indication of a weak constitution, impurity of blood, or ill health. When the wool is opened the skin under it should be clear, bright, clean, and wholly free from scurfiness. The wrinkles and folds in it are mostly a matter of taste, they add but little to the value of the fleece; and the present fashion, and one to be admired, is to lessen them as much as possible. For the some-time fashionable deep folds on the neck add nothing to the real value of the rams, unless it may be for the purpose of improving the lighter bodied native races or the poor Mexican ewes.
The Merino being a wool sheep before anything else, its fleece is the principal point of excellence. This should be close and compact on the skin, having sufficient yolk to preserve the soft texture, and grease enough to protect it from the rains. The close top of a Merino fleece is therefore a protection to the sheep against the weather, and in choosing breeding animals this is a point to be considered in the rams.
As a special wool grower the Merino should have its body as completely covered by the fleece as possible. Thus the whole sheep is enveloped in the fleece down to the feet, and the face is covered except the eyes. The absence of hair in the fleece is a chief point in this regard. The curl of the wool and a wavy appearance of it on opening the fleece is a point to be regarded with favor. So is the softness and elasticity of the fleece. There should not be too much yolk in it; this is a waste so far as there may be an excess over and above the natural quantity required to prevent matting of the fleece, and to give it its due protective character for the comfort and health of the animal.The eye of a sheep is to be studied as one of the points by which its condition of health is to be ascertained. A
bright active eye, clear and free from all tinge of yellow, is an indication of good constitution and health. Any tinge of yellowness is a fault not sufficiently taken note of in judging sheep, for unless the sheep is healthy and sound in every way, whatever the excellencies it may possess in other respects are still worthless to the breeder, if the healthful and sound constitution is wanting.
As might be expected, and as has happened with cattle, there will always arise in the breeding of any distinct class of sheep, by virtue of the variation due to the different systems, methods, and environments, followed by breeders, some more or less distinct families which have all the special characteristics of the breed, but differ in some special points. The Short-horn breed of cattle--for instance--when in the hands of those two renowned breeders, Mr. Bates and Mr. Booth, soon became differentiated so much as to form two distinct families, known as the Bates and the Booth Short-horns. Each of these still possessed the distinct qualifications of the main breed, but varied as to some special points. Thus one became the best beef animals and the other, with this qualification, possessed excellent dairy qualities. Each breeder it seems, and indeed of necessity, gave a sort of personality to his own stock, and this was maintained by those other breeders who strove to preserve, by similar culture and infusions of new blood of each class, this distinctive difference in minor points, and so infused this personality as may be said into each sub-breed.
This has occurred, as might have been expected, and indeed of necessity, with our Merino sheep. And thus it is that we have some distinct classes or sub-breeds of the Merino, just as have been produced in the case of the Saxony, the Silesia, the Rambouillet, and the American Merino. These do not necessarily enter into competition with the special Merino, but fill that place which will always exist among sheep breeders, and among the sheep farmers as well, which will always be open, and is due to individual preferences. It is well that this is so, for it tends to the maintenance of such a competition among these classes, or sub-breeds, as must give rise to the best efforts of all con-
This breed originated in Ohio, by the successful efforts of Mr. William R. Dickinson of Stubenville. It sprang from the Humphrey importation, some of which were purchased by Mr. Rotch of Connecticut who moved to Massilon in Ohio, and carried with him a selected flock of these sheep. This was about eighty years ago. Through some unfortunate financial reverses the flock in part came into the possession of Mr. Dickinson, through whom they in time passed into the hands of Mr. James McDowell, who had been the shepherd of Mr. Dickinson for many years.
This flock was then the only pure bred descendants of the original flock, selected at first from the importation of Mr. Humphrey's. Since 1831 these sheep have been in the hands of Mr. McDowell who has bred them with absolute purity, and with such success that at the present time they are scattered in the hands of over one hundred breeders, who have formed an association in whose records there are now six thousand pedigrees, tracing directly to the original stock.
This breed produces a beautifully-fine standard delaine wool, from four to five inches long, with a soft and glossy fiber, clean and well crimped. The breed is hornless and makes an excellent mutton sheep. It has good size, the rams weighing from 200 lbs. in ordinary condition, and up to 300 when fat and full fleshed. The ewes in good breeding condition weigh 150 lbs. and a finished wether 200 lbs. The fleece in the grease weighs, for rams, from 20 up to 40 lbs. and for ewes 15 to 25 lbs. This sheep has been bred distinctly for its carcass of fine mutton, as much as for its excellent fleece.
This breed originated through the desire of a number of breeders of the Delaine variety of the Merino, to improve
[Illustration: Dickinson Delaine Merino Ram "Prosperity." (Sired by "Wonderful.") Bred by H. G. McDowell, Canton, Ohio.]
the existing sheep, so as to produce an excellent mutton animal with an improved fleece. A smooth bodied animal was desired, well covered with a good fleece of long stapled fine wool, and having a broad back and deep quarters. The best milking quality was one of the main objects as well as to get rid of the deeply wrinkled body. This desire led to the formation of The Standard Delaine Spanish-Merino Association, in great part due to the efforts fo Mr. S. M. Cleaver of Washington County, Pa., a locality noted for its fine sheep and intelligent and enterprising flock owners, for many years past. A scale of points was established in which prominence is given to the fleece, its quantity and quality, length and strength of staple; and equally to the size and form of carcass, the mutton qualities of which are estimated by the deep and rounded quarters, the broad straight back, and the weight of the rams at not less than 150 lbs. and of the ewes not less than 100.
These standards are now considerably surpassed, in fact, as the rams weigh 170 to 200 lbs., and the ewes 120 to 150. This sheep matures early and fattens easily.
[Illustration: Dom Pedro. Imported from France by M. Desselert, 1801.]
[Illustration: Standard Delaine Merinos. Bred by C. S. Chapman & Co., Marysville, Ohio.]
This is another sub-breed of this class which originated in Washington County, Pa., in 1880, mainly through the efforts and influence of Mr. J. C. McNary. This locality has a past history in regard to its sheep and its skillful breeders, common with Vermont, and the outgrowth of it has been a somewhat special class of Merino sheep known as the Washington County Merino. Nearly thirty years ago rams were brought from Vermont and crossed on the sheep then known as the native Merino. This crossing resulted in the form of sheep now known as the American or National Delaine, a sheep with a long fleece fit for combing, and yet retaining its peculiar fineness and strength of fiber, and as well having a larger carcass than the original Merino with far better mutton character. That these different varieties should be formed in the limit of a single county speaks strongly as to the skill and intelligence of the sheep breeders, of whom, those organized in the various parts of the county, each formed in their minds what kind of sheep they wanted to meet the demands of the butchers and the wool manufacturers together; and going to work made each kind of sheep they desired. No more evidence of the intelligence of these breeders can be afforded than these useful sheep to which their ideas have given form in these local sub-breeds. They have satisfied every need of the shepherd; a fine heavy fleeced sheep for the wool manufacturer and a well bodied one for the butcher.
These examples testify to the correctness of the views of the author expressed in the chapter on breeding, by which he shows that variation in breeding is the expression of a personal idea of fitness and value, and that locality, with varying conditions, must necessarily lead to variations in type, just as these instances of these sub-breeds formed by individual instincts, as might be said of the intelligent breeders, and the personality of each breeder, is expressed in his favorite type of animal. That the association of these intelligent breeders to form scales of points and permanent distinguishing types of sheep have been duly formed, and are now in action, is the only means possible of preserving these types permanently; and while each one can scarcely be called a distinct breed, the outgrowth of these if well
[Illustration: National Delaine Merinos. Bred by Jas. McClelland & Sons, Canonsburg, Pa.]
The Improved Delaine Merino is another branch of the Delaine family. In 1890, a registry association was formed in Central Ohio, including the flocks of Messrs. Henry, Long, Hagenbuck, Bailey, Silvens, Turnbull, Horn, Crittenden, Newcomer, Swain, Braden and others, the object of the organization being the preservation of purity in the Delaine Merino and the encouragement of further development in the production of a mutton sheep of large size, strong constitution and compact symmetrical form, with a heavy fleece of fine Delaine wool. No sheep with other than pure Delaine blood are permitted to enter the register.
The weight of a mature ewe of this breed should run from 100 to 120 pounds and her fleece from 9 to 14 pounds of long, white, well crimped and fine delaine staple, showing a free flow of white oil. The mature ram in full fleece should weigh from 160 to 210 pounds, averaging about 175 or 180 pounds.
The association has grown rapidly and now embraces a good number of well known flocks scattered throughout the states and territories, the principal flock centers being Bellefontaine, Urbana and Cedarville, Ohio.
As a distinct breed, dates back to the formation of the flock of the late Wm. Berry of Washington County, PA., in 1821. Mr. Berry obtained his foundation stock from the famous flock of the late W. R. Dickinson, of Steubenville, Ohio, and bred his flock up with great care until late in the 40's, when it was divided between his sons William and Matthew Berry, from whose flocks came the foundations for the later flocks of William, John M. and C. M. Berry. From these have sprung a multitude of other flocks now widely scattered over the United States. The organization of the flock registry association for recording these sheep and maintaining purity of blood and a high standard of form, fleece and general char-
[Illustration: Improved Delaine Merino. Bred by Alex. Turnbull & Son, Cedarville, Ohio.]
acter for them, was perfected in the early 80's, and the association is now one of the leading sub-Merino record societies in the country, with headquarters in Washington County, Pa. This excellent breed of sheep is briefly characterized by its chief promoters as follows:
Full grown rams in fleece should weigh not less than 175 lbs., and mature ewes, in fleece, not less than 120 lbs. In normal physical development they should be deep and large in the breast and through the heart, with broad back, square quarters, fine pinkish skin, well expanded nostril, bright eye, clean, healthy countenance, head carried well up, body symmetrical and of good length, of heavy bone, smooth joints, well sprung ribs, broad, flat shoulders, strong muscles, plain body and small dew-laps. Head should be wide with medium length, medium, well-defined ears, covered with soft fur. Ewes hornless, but rams should have good, clear, finely curved horns. The neck medium length and strong, deepening toward the shoulders. Legs medium length, good bone and well apart, and the feet medium size, well turned and firm. The fleece should be even and crimpy, covering the body and legs to the knees, and the head well covered forward between the eyes, and free from hair. Staple, medium or fine delaine, not less than three inches long, of uniform length, and fleece compact with free flowing white oil forming on the exterior a uniform dark coating.
[Illustration: Wild Sheep of Northern Europe.]
[Illustration: Black Top Merino Ram. Bred by W. P. Penry & Bro., Radnor, Ohio.]
This strain of the Merino is represented by a class of sheep of which the prevailing characteristic is the uniform dark top on the surface of the fleece, due to the even distribution of the natural oil which lubricates the fleece of all sheep, but most especially of the various strains of the Merino. It is a question among breeders of this type of sheep, whether the oil and yolk are really of any value to the fleece, at least to the large extent to which it accompanies the wool. This matter has been incidentally referred to in preceding pages and the belief expressed that this oil and yolk is indispensable to this class of sheep, for the reason, that as its fiber is so much crimped and wavy, and inclined to felt, the natural supply of the oily matter fo the fleece is indispensable to the actual value of it. The special character of the wool of the Merino classes, and its strong tendency to felt together, render this natural product of the highest value, and we cannot dispense with it.
In the scale of points of this sub-breed of the Merinos, the oil in the fleece is rated at six percent; the staple, not less than three and a half inches in length, eight; the condition of the fleece at six, the quality of the wool at seven, the evenness of the fleece at eight, the body at sixteen, and the size and constitution at thirty. These figures tell the story of the aims and ends of the breeders of this class of the Merino.
The weights run from 180 for rams to 130 lbs. for ewes, and the regularity of the make up in general goes to figure out a fair mutton animal. The breed originated from the flock of Mr. Dickinson of Ohio, the direct produce of the Humphrey importations from Spain in 1802. By close but judicious breeding, this present strain--or breed as it is now entitled to be called--has become differentiated from the common American Merinos, and is marked by the special characteristics set forth in the herd record of the Association, in which six hundred and sixty animals are entered, being the aggregate of nine pure bred flocks all going back to the original Humphrey importation. The flock of the President of the Association, Mr. Robert Johnson of Washington County, Pa., was founded in 1844. Since that time the best rams to be procured have been selected, but for
[Illustration: Improved Black Top Merinos (Yearlings). Bred by President L. L. Harsh, Union City, Mich.]
thirteen years past the flock has had no infusion of outside blood.
The sheep is one of the indispensable acquisitions of the human race, and all the kinds in existence, and those that may come into existence hereafter, will find a welcome and a home among the rest of the flocks. Once on a time the Merino, and the Saxony Merino especially, was the highest valued of all the ovine race. That was when the exquisitely fine fleece was in high demand for the manufacture of the best broadcloths used for the clothing of the wealthy and fashionable people, who dare not appear at any social gathering or festival except in this finest of all attire. But this habit, both in respect of manner and dress, still prevails, and this finest wooled sheep of all the fine wool class, will possibly ever be in the first place among the finest wooled sheep.
It is the offspring of the ancient Merino, from which the Spanish flocks descended through two thousand years of the history of a turbulent period, during which our present civilization was in process of slow growth. In spite of wars and the dense ignorance of the so-called dark ages, the Spanish flocks survived, and in time became the progenitors of this race. By reason of the well adapted climate, and high culture of the farms, as well as of the sheep, this breed improved in quality, and soon after its firm establishment it became the chief producer of the fine wools for which Germany has long been noted, and now stands in the first place among the nations for its fine woolens, especially for the finest cloths and hosiery. In respect of climatic adaptation, the United States is first in the whole world, and a place is, and always will be, found for every kind of sheep or other domestic animals; and as our cattle and horses have surpassed in value and excellence their progenitors in other countries, so the sheep of every kind may find room and development by the culture of our intelligent shepherds.
The fleece of this sheep has sold for three dollars and twenty-five cents a pound, and while intense speculation at times has been disastrous to the breed along with other of
[Illustration: Saxony Merinos. Bred by John G. Clark, Lagonda, Pa.]
the Merino class, yet it has survived and its wool known as Electoral, from the title of the Saxon Prince who fostered it with much care in its earlier days, always brings, and doubtless always will bring, the highest price of any wool produced.
Its greatest value, however, is for crossing on the coarser breeds for the purpose of improving the fleece, and past experience goes to show that this, the finest wool sheep existing, has undoubtedly an important place to fill in the future rearing of a larger bodied animal with a fleece of equal fineness and strength and brilliance of staple. We may know what has occurred in this line of improving sheep, but our dreams, even, may not equal the reality which may happen in time in this direction. The advance of every industry in every direction, is a constant denial of the thought that we have reached perfection in any degree in the breeding and rearing of sheep, or in the product of wool. And the field for enterprise is wide open, and always will be for skillful experiment by advanced breeders. Of late years the carcass of this sheep has been increased in size, and like that of the larger French Merino varieties, makes fine mutton, having an excellent flavor. With our greater advantage here we may well expect to make this once smallest of its race equal to any others of it, as a mutton sheep. In its original home it has been considerably improved in this way, and in the hands of the equally intelligent and skillful American breeders it will have a successful future.
The so-called Rambouillet Merino breed of sheep has become exceedingly popular during a few years past. This is really the true French Merino, quite as much so deserving this name as our native bred Merino deserves to be called as a distinguishing name the American Merino. For it has a longer history as a distinct family of the Spanish Merino than the American variety has, for it was first originated some years before the first importation of the Merino into the United States.
It was in 1786 that the French Government, with the intention of founding a special race of sheep fitted for the
[Illustration: Rambouillet Yearling Ewes--Weight 355 Lbs. Bred by O. E. Lincoln & Son, Milford Center, O.]
climate and other conditions of the country--then having no distinct and really valuable breed of sheep within its borders--purchased, with the friendly help of the Spanish Government, over three hundred of the finest specimens of the sheep of that country. A suitable farm for the accommodation of this flock was procured at a place known as Rambouillet, not far from Paris, and once the residence of the kings of France. In the beautiful park near the otherwise unnoteworthy village of this name, this flock was cultivated with the highest skill by the Government for the advantage of the citizens. No sheep were sold for many years, nor until--by selection and breeding--a distinctly new race, indeed a well-defined breed, was produced differing in several important points from the original foundation stock.
It was increased in size, and even more than proportionately to this in the weight of the fleece, the wool of which was increased in length to fully three inches and even more, while the exquisite fineness and delicacy of fiber was in no ways depreciated. The size of the sheep became double that of the original Spanish flock, full grown ewes weighing up to two hundred pounds, and the rams up to three hundred, live weight. This improved fleece became the valuable staple for the manufacture of those popular dress goods known as the French Merino, as well as for mixed fabrics of cotton warp and weft of this wool, and which were known as delaines. From this style of exceedingly popular fabric, which was beautifully printed in the French factories, this sheep has taken the sometime name of the Delaine Merino. Here it takes the name commonly of the place of its origin as the Rambouillet breed, and truly it deserves this popular name in commemoration of the place of its origin, which will doubtless retain this name, and for years to come in the future in association with this magnificent sheep, valued both for its flesh and its wool, when all remembrance of the frivolous and vicious occupants of the park and ancient chateau will have been lost in the then long past.
The author visited this flock in the year 1848, and was entertained in the most cordial manner by the superintendent, who prepared a saddle of the mutton, cooked especially in the American style, as a sample of the excellent
[Illustration: Twilight at Government Farm "Rambouillet," France.]
[Illustration: Range Bred Delaines. Bred by F. Beck, Coleman, Texas. (This is a replacement plate for the previous illustration in subsequent editions of the book. --ed.)]
quality of the meat. The sheep had been fed on the fine pastures of the park and on beets specially grown for the flocks. The meat was distinctly equal to the best of the English mutton of the choicest breed of that country, the Southdown, and showed that the skillful breeding and the really scientific feeding of the sheep, had transformed the tough, dry flesh of the original Spanish sheep into one of the best market meats in the world. This point is one to be well considered by our breeders of this sheep, for the future prosperity of the American shepherds is to come, not from the wool alone, but still more from the mutton, which is so rapidly coming into popular favor everywhere; and even in the Southern States, in which mutton has scarcely ever been thought of as a food, and good meat of this kind is practically as unpopular as it is poor and undesirable in quality.
It is one of the good qualities of this sheep that the fleece is far more profitable for its weight than our native Merino. This is due to the absence of the excessive quantity of yolk and gum in the wool. The result of this of course is to increase the proportion of actual wool in the fleece. Fleeces of nearly fifty pounds weight--this of course as taken from the sheep--are by no means surprising; such a weight of course is the product of full grown rams, but yearlings have given fifteen pounds for the first shearing; over twenty-seven for the second; thirty-seven for the third; and forty-eight for the fourth. These weights are not of unusually long wool but are due to the actual density of the wool on the skin, which is one of the common features of this sheep.
There are two other varieties of the Merino, or the most valuable short fine-wooled sheep. These are the Silesian and the Saxon Merinos. But as these sheep are small, the fleece light, and too fine for the now prevalent classes of woolen goods, they are merely mentioned without going in any way into a discussion of their special characteristics. It is scarcely probable that in the present, and doubtless future progress of our woolen manufactures, we shall ever need to find the rearing of these special fine-wooled sheep profitable. It will be the future business of the shepherd to supply the demand for mutton, a demand that is unquestionably bound to increase steadily, until we shall approach, if not overtake and pass, the condition of the sheep industry in
It is one of the most conspicuous facts in regard to the culture of sheep that the most attention is given to breeding and feeding the flocks in those countries in which mutton is a favorite and important article of food. The English people consume more of this meat than any other nation--indeed doubtless as much as all other nations put together. And while the English are beef eaters to a large extent, yet their mutton furnishes more than a half of their flesh meat. The result has been that this nation has paid more attention to the breeding of sheep and have more varieties than any other nation. So that it is the fact that in furnishing our farms and ranges with flocks we are forced to look to Great Britain, which is England and Scotland combined, for our stock, and also for the replenishing of it with new blood. It may be, and doubtless will be, that in a few years more American shepherds will have so far acclimated their sheep and have so successfully bred them, and by the exercise of such skill as many of our foremost shepherds possess and apply to their special industry, we shall be able to depend wholly on our native flocks for all our breeding stock as well as have created such special families as will best suit our climate and conditions. Doubtless our system of agriculture will improve under the stimulating effect of the high culture of our flocks, and thus the sheep, as the old adage goes, will prove to us that it has a golden hoof by the vast increase in wealth it will secure to our agricultural interest.
It will be of interest, however, to know something of what is doing in this line of sheep breeding and culture in other countries, for instance in France, where the Merino has achieved a world-wide notoriety for its special value as a wool producer, as well as for a very good mutton sheep.
The Merino stands first in France as it does in Germany and Spain. But on the whole the rather stolid and careless system of husbandry in those countries is not well adapted to enterprise or success in improving the live stock of any kind. But some of the most intelligent French breeders
[Illustration: Leicester-Merino Cross.]
have recently taken considerable interest in the improvement of their flocks by crossing on them the English breeds, especially the Leicester and the Southdown. The former cross with the Merino has produced an excellent sheep with a good carcass and a valuable fleece, and the produce of this cross is the most popular, as it is the most valuable. This good work has been done in the best cultivated districts as Champagne, Beauce, and Chattillonais. There the best farming in France is to be seen, and sheep rearing is one of the most profitable parts of it. The most common sheep of these localities, however, is the cross of the old natives by the French Merino. The produce of these crosses go by the name of Metis-Merino or half-bred Merino. The Merinos have been crossed with the English Leicester with the result
ity, and this is of the greatest importance in these days, when time for feeding is the main element of profit. As will be observed later, when the science and art of feeding will be discusssed, it is far cheaper to feed a young animal than an old one. For every part of the young animal is growing; the bone; vital organs; the whole of the carcass, flesh and fat; all gain by the food; and the system is more amenable to improvement in a young animal than in a mature one; less of the food being lost in mere existence, as compared with growth. Thus a quick growing animal in the early part of its life is the most cheaply fed, for the cost of the food and attention are the least for the most increase in weight.
The whole system of breeding this sheep has been to reach this end, and the exceedingly hardy original stock--a large horned sheep which ran at large on the open downs of Central England so far back as the time of the old Romans, when they occupied the island, and which supplied the fleeces for the first woolen factory established at Winchester during the Roman occupation about twenty centuries ago--was naturally fitted to establish a breed with strong constitution and abilitiy for improvement. This breed has remained one of the old standards since that early time, and by its survival to within eighty years ago, when improvement first began, proves its fitness to survive in its hardy constitution and its intrincsic value as a wool bearer, for which it was originally valued.
The first effort made in its improvement was the use of the Southdown rams for crossing on the native Hampshire ewes. The ancient race had a large bony narrow carcass, large heads, prominent Roman noses, long curly horns, the carcass was high at the withers, narrow and sharp ridged along the back, but it was the largest short wooled sheep in existence.
To make of this ungainly animal one profitable to the farmer for its flesh and fleece, was a problem to be solved by the eminent improvers of live stock of all kinds in those--now a century old--days. It was solved as others have been by the use of the short-legged, broad-backed, thick-set, close-wooled Southdown, a very anti-type of what this old Hampshire then was. The first crosses were effective to gain the points the original breeders of the Hampshire
[Illustration: The American Hampshire. Property Standard Meat & Live Stock Co., Rawlins, Wyo. J. G. Massey, Mgr.]
Downs wanted. The cross was repeated again and again, the native prepotency of the old race striving hard for preponderance; but the better bred blood of the improving race in time prevailed, and after many crosses with the Southdown the horns disappeared, the white face was changed to a black one, the frame, loose and angular was brought by degrees to a compact body, with a broad back, round barrel, short legs, and superior quality of flesh, with a quick feeding habit, and an ability to make the earliest growth and the most salable weight, both of carcass and fleece, for the food consumed. The ancient colossal head with its bulging nose has been changed for one of pleasing proportions, yet strong and indicating a vigorous and hardy nervous constitution. The brain is capacious and the body is evenly molded, deep and broad on the back, wide between the forelegs, and full behind, a model carcass for the butcher, and for the satisfaction of the breeder.
Its hardiness is unquestionable. It is at home on the Southern old field, on the best cultivated farms of the East and West, and away on the Northwestern ranges it sustains itself as a triumph of the breeders' art.
Before the late war between the North and South a lot of this breed had been imported into Virginia, and were flourishing. The misfortunes of the strife tended to scatter the flocks which became distributed over the Southern States. Some black faces found in the N. Carolina mountains were traced back to these Virginia flocks, and the evidences of the value of this breed for crossing on the thin, ill-formed, unprofitable, native sheep, are to be met with in the still black faces of well formed thrifty sheep scattered here and there among the elevated Southern pastures.
This breed is well adapted for improving the small light bodied native ewes. It is commonly thought that to use a large bodied ram on these small light ewes is bad practice, for the alleged reason that the large size of the resulting lamb will endanger the small ewes, and be born with difficulty.
This, as is stated at more length in the chapter on breeding, is not based on scientific principles, or on common sense and experience. For the male merely contributes the vital germ of life to its offspring, with it habit of growth and assim-
[Illustration: Hampshire Down Ram Lambs, Born in 1897. Owner and breeder, James Flower, Chilmark, Salisbury, England. Winners "Challenge Cup" at the Salisbury Fair, 1897; also 1st Wells County Show, 2nd the Royal, 2nd Royal Counties, 3rd Oxfordshire Society, and 3rd Bath and West Shows.]
ilation of food after birth; the ewe gives only the life and its own substance to its offspring, and while the lamb is of the normal size for the ewe, it has the ability of its sire to grow and turn more food than its dam ever could do into growth. There is no good reason therefore why a well bred Hampshire ram should not be used for the improvement of the smallest of our common sheep. Its natural history goes to prove its fitness for this use under certain circumstances, which make its use desirable for this purpose.
The recognized points of excellence of this breed are its rather massive head with its prominent Roman nose, and the absence of horns or rudiments of them, as slugs, snags or buds. The face and legs are deep black, the fleece is free from all black spots and is close and fine all over the body. The skin is pink under the wool. The ears are somewhat pointed as compared with those of the Southdown, of a dark mouse color behind, and free from light specks or mottling. The forequarters are broad and the breadth of carcass should be maintained down to the rump. As this is one of the most conspicuous faults of the breed, it is to be guarded against in choosing rams for the increase of the prue bred flocks.
The Suffolk sheep has only recently come into prominence as a breed. It is only since 1886 that it was given a class at the Royal Agricultural exhibitions, but since that time the breeders have formed an association, and by strong efforts have brought their sheep into notice. This sheep is similar in many respects to the Hampshire, but is not so compact in form, and the short black hair on the face extends over the head which is thus devoid of wool. It is as yet in process of formation as a breed, and has its history to make. It is, as may be seen from the illustration given, a neat, well formed sheep, with a good carcass and something of the Hampshire type about it.
This sheep is a double cross, being made up of the Hampshire ewe, a distinctly cross bred animal, with the Cotswold ram. It is the largest of this class of sheep, excelling the Hampshire in size at the same age. It is a later
[Illustration: Suffolk Ram, Ewe And Three of Her Lambs. Bred by M. B. Streeter, Brooklyn, N.Y.]
sheep to bring lambs, so that generally it suffers undeserved detraction on account of the lighter weight of the lambs at the exhibitions, as compared with the earlier dropped Hampshires. The carcass weighs twenty to twenty-four pounds the quarter at a year or fourteen months old.
This sheep has not so dark a face as the Hampshire, this being somewhat mottled, nor is the shoulder so broad as in the Hampshire. It has not the evenness of its close competitor, showing a less well defined type, and thus needing longer breeding with careful selection of the rams used as well as of the ewes. Lambs are bred by the English farmers by crossing these ewes with a Hampshire ram, for the purpose of darkening the face, and the reverse cross is used when the face is satisfactory but the form is not. Then a Cotswold ram is used. Sometimes a Shropshire ram is chosen and the result of this cross is a much improved carcass, broad along the back, and with better hind quarters. When well selected rams are used this breed is one of the most profitable for mutton, and as the fleece is an excellent worsted wool and weighs seven pounds on an average, it is a valuable addition to our adopted breeds. It is one of the best farm sheep, although it has a good reputation for range purposes. For this it is not to be thought that it is the purpose of the shepherd to make a flock of this breed; on the other hand the rams of this and other breeds are procured to cross on the common native or grade sheep, and thus produce a high grade whose value is easily doubled by this use of good rams. It is thus a matter for the shepherd to select the rams he may find the most valuable for this use, and the Oxford Down is well worthy of regard for this purpose. The sheep shown in the illustration was the champion of all breeds in the two shear class at the Oxfordshire show of last year.
This sheep in its native country goes by the name or class of the Somerset and the Dorset Horned breed. Of late years this breed has become exceedingly popular on this continent, mostly however for its special fecundity and early breeding habit. Indeed it is so prolific that two lambing seasons in the year are possible under the right management. It is a white faced sheep with a close short fleece used
[Illustration: The Champion (1897) Oxford Down Ram Lamb "Royal Victor." Property B. F. Miller & W. F. Stewart, Flint, Mich.]
for flannel goods, and such clothing fabrics as require such a material. It is thus a useful sheep for its wool alone, of which the fleece will weigh four or five pounds. It is a native of the southern part of England in which the mild delicious climate permits tender plants such as the fuchsia, the heliotrope and the geranium to bloom the whole year round, covering the picturesque cottages with their brilliant bloom, while the northern parts of the country are covered with snow.
It is solidly built, having a broad back and short legs; it has a tuft of wool on its forehead, and ewes are horned as well as the rams. It is one of the most ancient of the English breeds, and has been preserved in its original purity from a remote period. Its breeders claim that it was existing before the Roman invasion, more than two thousand years ago. But of late it has been carefully improved by the selection of the best rams and the diligent search for the most prolific ewes, of whom it is not at all rare that the breeder may obtain four or even five lambs in the year. It is larger than the Southdown and although most esteemed for its prolificacy yet its mutton is above the average of its class of short-wooled sheep. The wethers, under good feeding, reach a dressed weight of twenty pounds the quarter; the forequarters however are apt to be light. They are a hardy sheep and since their introduction here have proved to be well suited to our cold Winters and warm Summers. They have also proved to be well adapted to the ranges, being excellent travelers and rustlers.
Their most prominent characteristic, however, is their unrivalled fecundity. Taking the ram in May they rear lambs ready for the market in the holidays, and breeding again soon after dropping the lambs bring another or other lambs in March or April, and often bringing twins and sometimes triplets, thus increase very fast, besides making a good profit for the lambs sold. It is the usual custom to breed the ewes to a Southdown or Hampshire ram, by which the market lamb has a black face which is generally preferred by the butchers. No other breed of sheep is so prolific as this under skillful management.
The breed is sustained by breeding the ewes to one of their own race for the increase of the flock, and the long
[Illustration: The American Dorset. Bred by the Tranquility Farms, Allamuchy, N.J.]
experience of the breeders may be taken as a complete contradiction of the naturalist's belief, to the effect, that crossing a pure bred animal outside of its own kind is apt to produce diversion and make the breed impure by the effect of the cross on the character of the ewe. The long peculiar history of the Dorset goes to show that, with sheep certainly, the outcross does in no way vitiate the blood of the females so bred.
The peculiar system of rearing these market or house lambs will be especially noticed in another chapter.
The Somerset sheep is somewhat larger than the Dorset and differs from it in having a pink nose, that of the Dorset being white. The wool is also a little longer, and the lambs are heavier. This breed has however the same special peculiarities, being used for rearing early lambs, which are fatted and often sold with the ewes at the same time.
A smaller variety of the Dorset is the Portland sheep, reared on the island of Portland, where not more than a few thousand are kept, principally for their sweet and delicate mutton, which brings a sufficiently high price to pay for rearing this small sheep, which do not weigh over ten or twelve pounds the quarter, when fat and fully matured.
The Long-wool sheep are without horns, except in some of the mountain breeds, and one of thse is fast losing this unnecessary appendage, once needed doubtless when this defense against the wolves and foxes was indispensable. The most conspicuous of this class of sheep is
Sheep are especially influenced by their environments. This is clearly proved by the large number of special breeds existing in the small extent of the British Islands, in which there are more sheep, and a greater variety of them, than in any other country in the world as compared with it in area. The English are a mutton eating people, and enjoy an enormous trade in woolen goods, having the great monopoly, as it were of the world's markets for this invaluable product. This has existed for hundreds of years, nay it is nearly two thousand years since the first woolen factory was in operation in that busy country. Consequently we cannot have a
[Illustration: Dorset Horn Ram "Flowers," No. 42. Bred by and property of W. R. Flowers, West Stafford, England. An unbeaten Ram--1st as a lamb in 1894, and 1st as a yearling in 1895 at the Royal, Bath and West of England, Royal Counties and Somerset Shows.]
better example before us of the desirability of a large variety of sheep, whether for mutton, of which we are becoming large and larger consumers every year, or for wool of which we are working up more and more continually.
The Lincoln sheep is a growth of many years' culture in a special district of England known as the Lincolnshire fens, and the adjoining counties of Norfolk and Cambridgeshire. In this district agriculture has been carried on under the highest system, the growth of roots, and the accompanying flocks fed on this crop, having advanced the agricultural methods so conspicuously, that what is known as the Norfolk system is held to be the highest type of farming. Hence it is to be expected that the sheep of this locality should be something beyond the common line.
For centuries there has been a Lincoln breed of sheep which surpassed in size all other breeds. Its fleece also surpassed all others in length of fiber and weight. It was a great coarse animal, the wool swept the ground on which it fed, and an average fleece weighed twelve to fifteen pounds, which a century ago was phenomenal as compared with other breeds. The carcass was very fat inside, and made the then highly esteemed chops--having three fingers of fat on the meat. But, as might be easily thought, this big coarse animal was not a profitable one after the work of Bakewell with his improved Leicesters was about complete. The intelligent breeders of the old Lincolns at once adopted Bakewell's work, and improved their flocks by crossing the New Leicesters on them. Thus the Leicesters took the same place with the Long-wools that was taken by the Southdowns among the Short-wools. This crossing has changed the old Lincoln from its former condition of a coarse form, with flat sides and hollow flanks, and big legs and feet, to one of handsome proportions, with finer wool, having good luster, and highly estimated for the worsteds class of goods. Its fleece has long been the material of which the bunting of the national flags of all countries have been manufactured on account of its great strength and its abilitiy to withstand the battle and the breeze. Our own Stars and Stripes have this kind of wool for the raw material, and it is always in demand for braids and other manufactures which call for this special material, long fiber and great strength.
[Illustration: The American Lincoln. Property Gibson & Walker, Denfield, Ontario.]
The infusion of Leicester blood refined the great coarse animal, but still left its produce the largest sheep in existence, the quarters of which weigh when fully finished for market thirty-seven pounds, and the fleece often twenty-four pounds. These weights are of course above the average, but they go to show what type this sheep is of.
Necessarily such a sheep is fitted for the highest culture of the land, in which root crops take the most important place. In the United States, however, the silo takes the place of the roots, to a large extent, but yet roots and big sheep and heavy fleeces will always go together.
But with our vast ranges we have occasion and space for this grand sheep for crossing on the common natives. This has been done to some extent in suitable circumstances, with much advantage, and when the shepherds will abandon the unwise and wholly wrong belief common among them, that a big ram is not suitable for crossing on little ewes on account of the supposed great size of the lamb thus produced, this breed will be extensively used for this purpose, producing a valuable mutton carcass and a most useful cross-bred wool. It is not, however, a part of wisdom to suppose that this cross, violent as it is, will be the foundation for a new race having the excellencies of the Lincolnshire. This subject, however, is too important to be more than suggested here; it lies at the foundation of the science of breeding, and must be left for consideration hereafter.
This breed is white faced, and has a conspicuous tuft on the forehead, which is the most marked indication of the old blood in it. The head is massive but not coarse, the nose is somewhat arched (Roman) and bare of wool. The brisket is full and deep, the body round and well proportioned, and while it is a heavy sheep it has no coarseness about it. It does not come up to its old weights either of carcass or fleece, but its quality is improved by the refinement it has undergone through many years of continuous careful breeding, making it a desirable sheep for its mutton and wool, and for the improvement of the common flocks.
It seems at first thought that a marsh sheep should be a misnomer. But sheep are made for every condition, even
[Illustration: Lincoln Ram "Riby General" 2nd 1195 (A Noted Stud Ram). S., Riby General 367; G.S., 1st Royal Windsor 152; G.G.S., General Gordon. Bred and owned by Henry Dudding, Riby Grove, Grimsby, England, the premier breeder of Lincoln sheep in England.]
for pasturing on marshes. And thus the Romney Marsh sheep is a habitant of the extensive salt marshes of Southeastern England in the County of Kent. Considering that we have many millions of acres of similar lands on our sea coasts, this breed is by no means to be omitted in this recapitulation. Indeed it has been acclimated and kept with success on the coast lands of New England and New Jersey. It is supposed that the deadly parasite, the fluke, would forbid the keeping of sheep on marsh lands; but this parasite, the cause of the liver rot of sheep, is never found on salt marshes, as its comon bearer, in which it passes one stage of its existence, inhabits only fresh water. It is related in form and character to the old Lincoln, being a long wool sheep with a very closely coated fleece. As with the Lincoln it has been greatly modified and improved by infusion of Leicester blood. Like the Lincoln, too, its home is on rich pastures, and it is not uncommon for seven of these sheep, with as many wethers, to be kept on each acre of a pasture. This fact should be well considered by our readers, for fine sheep and a profitable flock must go with full feed, and the farm sheep is always a type of the culture of the land on which it is kept.
By the crossing, it has been reduced in size and improved in form, while its fleece has been refined. It is a white faced breed mostly, having a forelock like the Lincoln, which it much resembles. It is an extremely hairy sheep, being rarely house-fed in the winter, pasturing on the marshes and meadows in all weathers through all the storms of a sea coast exposure. It is thus one of the breeds which may be adopted for range flocks, of which hardiness is a desirable characteristic. It is a profitable sheep for its fine mutton and its fleece, valuable for worsted goods.
The Cotswold sheep has an interesting history. It is the oldest breed of sheep of which there is any satisfactory record. Its history goes back for at least three centuries, and beyond that, while it has no written records, yet it has been known that the long wool yielded by this sheep was in high favor long before the name of the sheep which produced it was a matter of notoriety. This long pedigree explains the
[Illustration: Kent or Romney Marsh Sheep "Royal Darlington 1st," 220, Vol. I. Breeder and owner, W. Millen, Syndale Valley, Faversham, Kent, England. Won 1st Prize at the Royal, Royal Counties and Tunbridge Wells in 1895; 1st Prize and Champion at Royal Counties both in 1896 and 1897; also in 1896 1st and Champion at Tunbridge Wells, and 1st at East Kent Show both in 1896 and 1897.]
reason for the great natural prepotency of the rams of this breed in the production of the various crosses which have been made by the Cotswold rams. It is one of the hardiest of all breeds, having been reared for this long period in a poor exposed district, and while it changes character when removed to more favorable surroundings, yet it is one of the hardiest sheep for the range. It is the next largest sheep to the Lincoln. It is a good mutton sheep and has a good fleece of rather coarse wool, valuable for heavy goods. The flesh is not so fine as that of the Down breeds, but is yet excellent for the butchers' use when not over fifteen months old, when it fattens readily and makes twenty-five pounds to the quarter. Its old size has been somewhat reduced, to conform to the present demand for lighter carcasses. The fleece, too, is not so heavy as it used to be, when it often weighed 12 lbs. or over of wool. It has been crossed with advantage with the Leicester, yielding then better mutton and a finer staple of lustrous wool, in good demand for heavy goods, and especially of the coarser kinds of women's dress fabrics. One of the best of its crosses is with the smaller Down breeds. It has been used with much success to cross on the Merino, the lambs of this cross making fine market stock, being large and fat, and the full grown cross breeds making fine market mutton and a useful fleece. Sir J. B. Lawes in his experiments in feeding sheep of various breeds, proved that these sheep made a more profitable return in growth for the food consumed than any other breed. Its hardiness has been proved by its average losses by death or accident being as low as two and a half per cent under ordinary circumstances, under a system of open fielding during the winter. It has been kept mostly on a system of feeding in the open ground on turnips.
The face of this sheep is mostly white, sometimes with a grayish mottled marking; the cross with the Downs gives a black face with a less pronounced Roman nose, which is however less prominent than in the Lincoln and Leicester. The forehead has a conspicuous tuft of wool. The belly is generally well covered with wool, as is also the scrotum. For crossing on the smaller breeds, especially our common natives, it is not excelled in point of the hardiness of the progeny, the increased size and the weight and value of the fleece.
[Illustration: Cotswold Sheep. Property Geo. Harding & Son, Waukesha, Wis.]
The Wensleydale breed is the produce of a cross of the Leicester on a Yorkshire breed somewhat similar to the Lincoln. By continued selection it has become a standard breed having special peculiarities, the chief of which is a bluish tinge in the skin and of the face and ears, sometimes extending all over the body, and being more marked on the bare and hairy parts. It is mostly used for its lambs, which are marketed when a year old and the mutton of which is of excellent quality. It is used mostly for crossing with the black-faced breeds, the peculiar tinge of the skin being thought to throw lambs more like the rams, and being larger and of excellent fattening disposition they are found more
[Illustration: Wensleydale Ram, Ten Years Old.]
profitable than the smaller pure, black-faces. It is valued for its fleece which has a peculiar curl, called pirls, these being really twists of a corkscrew shape, and which in manufacturing tend to felt in the goods, giving a very firm and tough cloth used for the hardest wear. The fleece is rather open, long in staple, and wastes but little as compared with the fleece of other sheep in the scouring. This peculiarity of the fleece is extended over the whole of the body, including the head and between the eyes and round the ears; the belly is well covered, as well as the scrotum and down the legs, with downy wool. There is a conspicuous absence of hair in the fleece, which is considered as an objectionable feature by the breeders.
The head is of good size, indicating a strong constitution, and is carried high on a strong neck, giving the sheep a
[Illustration: The American Cheviot. As bred by Howard Keim, Ladoga, Indiana.]
much favored style and an attractive appearance. The nose is wide, the back of the head is flat, the ears are large and prominent. The carcass is noted for its evenness and the absence of patches of fat, the meat being well mingled with fat all through rather than on the outside of the carcass. While it is somewhat slower in maturing and in taking on fat than the Leicester, it is thought to be hardier in constitution, and in its active disposition, being, as we should say, a far better rustler, and thus more able to withstand the ordinary hardships of outdoor winter keeping. It is thus of value for crossing on the common range flocks as well as for open grazing on farms.
The Cheviot is the principal breed of this class, and the more interesting to the American shepherd, as it is already introduced on this side of the Atlantic, and has made a place for itself in which it has proved to be a valuable breed for farm use as well as for crossing on our native stock. We have an association of breeders of this sheep who deserve credit for their enterprise in this direction.
It is named from the Cheviot hills, a range of low mountains on the border of England and Scotland, once, on a time, the scenes of continued strife between what might have been called in our parlance border ruffians, who during the old wars between England and Scotland made these noted hills the scenes of midnight forays, by what were then called the cattle lifters. Then every shepherd's house was his castle, in which--always armed--he was prepared to defend his herds and flocks from the invaders from both sides. At the present time these sheep are scattered all over the green hills of Scotland, and with the Black-faced Highland sheep make up the great majority of the flocks. The author takes a deeper interest in this breed, possibly, as he imported some of them some few years ago for his farm in the mountains of North Carolina, where they succeeded admirably, and the cross of this breed on the native sheep of this district is yet apparent in the larger build, finer mutton character, and the largely increased fleece of wool, admirably adapted to the home manufacture of the popular jeans.
The special marks of this breed are the short, hard, pure
[Illustration: the Champion Cheviot Aged Ram of 1896, "Coquet's Pride." (525 Cheviot Sheep Flock Book.) Bred by Thomas Robson, Esq., Blindburn, Alwinton, Rothbury, Northumberland, England, Breeder of Pedigree Cheviot Sheep. Rams and Ewes bred on one of the highest and stormiest farms on the Cheviot Hills, the lowest part of which is 1,000 feet above sea-level. This Ram was bred on the above farm.]
white hair covering the face, extending over the ears and behind the head; rudimentary horns, which are sometimes loose and mere appendages of the skin, a prominent Roman nose, black nostrils and bright full black eyes. The wool is moderately long, straight and free from kemp (or the short coarse hairs which go by this name), and covers well all parts of the body, the belly, breast, and legs down to the hocks. The tail is naturally long and rough, protecting the udders of the ewes, and not objectionable when the sheep are kept on pasture and not fed on turnips, rape, or other laxative food. The shoulders are high. The ewes are excellent milkers and good mothers, losing few lambs, even when unattended by the shepherd. They are docile and not given to straying, even in the late season when sheep, by long inherited disposition to wander, are most inclined to stray.
It is the custom with the Cheviot shepherds to cross the ewes with Leicester, Lincoln, or Wensleydale rams; the produce are known as Leicester or half-bred lambs, and are popular in the markets at twelve months old when they will weigh sixteen to eighteen pounds to the quarter. The flesh of thse half-breds is not so fat and is better considered by the butchers than that of the pure Leicester.
This breed is kept in the States of New York, Pennsylvania, Indiana, Iowa and North Carolina, and in these widely different and distant localities all do well.
The fleece weighs five to seven pounds in the ewes, and a half more in the rams. The ewes imported by the author weighed 170 lbs, and the ram, two years old, 270 lbs.
This breed is smaller than the Cheviot, and thrives well on scant pastures, or the rough herbage of mountains. It is originally a forest sheep, having been kept in Ettrick Forest from long time back. It is now the principal sheep of the Scottish Highlands, where it is kept in large flocks, both for its mutton and its fleece. The mutton is of the finest quality, exceeded in this respect by but one other sheep--the small Welsh mountain breed--which furnishes meat of such fine texture and flavor as to be kept for sale mostly in the fancy grocery shops of London and other of the largest English
[Illustration: Black-Faced Highland Ram. Noted Prize Winner.]
cities. Its fleece is coarse and weighs only about four to five pounds, being of the class known as carpet wools.
The marks of this sheep are black or mottled face and legs; dun or brown patches are considered objectionable as indication of impure blood and a less hardy constitution. The nose is strong and prominent, but not so much arched as that of the Cheviot; the nostrils are black and wide. The horns of the rams are large and heavy, coming out level with the top of the head, and not joining each other at the base. They have one to two spiral turns as the age may be, the curl being in a forward direction, but not protruding towards the face. The ewe has small thin flattened horns not spirally twisted. The ears are short and small. The back is broad all over from the shoulder to the rump. The tail is naturally short and is not cut. A wether fat from pasture and three years old is considered the finest of all mutton, the quarter weighing 16 to 18 lbs.
Its constitution is exceedingly hardy while on its mountain pastures, where foot rot never occurs; but one fault with this breed is that the wearing down of the hoof on its rocky home has so increased the natural growth of horn that when the sheep is moved to low land farms the foot becomes soft and is addicted to foot rot. This fact should be considered by our shepherds, who might neglect this necessity for paring the hoofs and so lead to disease in the flock.
A few years ago the author found some of these sheep on an Illinois farm, where it seemed at first thought to be as much out of place as a codfish from the ocean. But so far as could be learned the flock had thrived, and if it could so far become acclimated to its new surroundings there, it would certainly be a welcome addition to our stock. On the mountains there is no question of its success, but the coarse, light fleece might stand in the way of its profitable herding. American flocks will scarcely pay to rear for wool alone, unless this is of the highest value, but with valuable mutton, as this breed yields, the cheaper wool might not be any insuperable objection to it, if the market could be found for the mutton. The hardiness of the breed, however, makes it a subject for consideration as to the value of the breed for crossing.
[Illustration: Welsh Mountain Sheep.]
This breed is scarcely worthy of notice were it not for its fine mutton. It is a small, restless, exceedingly active sheep, white-faced, with a carcass yielding a quarter of twelve pounds or less, but of such tenderness of flesh and high agreeable flavor, equal to that of venison, and which brings in the shops of the English cities as much as a dollar a pound at the Christmas holidays, and half as much at other seasons. Its fleece is short but fine, and makes the fine, highly considered Welsh flannels, of which when dyed scarlet the Welsh women make their cloaks. A somewhat ludicrous history is attached to the habit of the Welsh ladies of wearing this kind of outer dress. When the French fleet, about a century ago, landed some soldiers to make a raid on the Welsh coast, the ladies were curious to get a view of the hostile strangers, and a crowd of them standing on a hill were seen by the enemy, who thought them a detachment of soldiers of the English army in their usual red coats. The enemy at once fled back to their ships and hastened home, supposing their intended raid had been made known.
This sheep is an example of the very certain fact that the tenderness and flavor of the food gives the high flavor to the meat, a fact which is not believed by some, but which is certainly supported by similar evidence other than this, and is illustrated in the clearest manner to the expert shepherd, who knows how the pasutres make the mutton as well as differentiate the character of the sheep.
There is somewhat of a misunderstanding to-day as to what the Leicester breed really is. There was an old Leicester breed existing, which was a large coarse sheep with a heavy fleece and a fairly good disposition to feed and fatten, which a noted breeder of the name of Bakewell, who was interested in breeding the Shorthorn cattle, took up, and began a course of improvement by which his name has become famous among sheep breeders. He in course of time made of it what was known as the Dishley (from the name of Mr. Bakewell's home) or the new Leicester breed. The effect of Mr. Bakewell's efforts in this direction was to produce the most profitable sheep of the time, a masterpiece of
breeding, and of skill in selection of materials first. The new breed was marked by early maturity, a great disposition to fatten, a carcass which, for its reduced size, had greater value than the previously larger but coarser animal; a corresponding diminution of offal; and the largest return for the food consumed than that of any other existing breed of sheep.
Mr. Bakewell made a profound secret of his methods of procedure, and although well watched by those interested in knowing his secret, so successfully guarded it that to this day very little is known of it. One thing, going to show the extent of his experiments, was discovered by one of his competitors in former work in improving the Shorthorn cattle, which was that Mr. Bakewell had a remarkably fine black ram in his stables, which was supposed to have been used in this improvement of his favorite sheep, and it is to this ram that is attributed the occasional black spots which are sometimes still found on the best bred Leicesters. Indeed this mark is thought to be an indication of strict purity in the sheep that have descended from the original flock of Bakewell.
It was well known that Mr. Bakewell was not particular as to the means he used so that the result suited his purpose. It is known that the best specimens of the old breed were secured as the foundation for his work, and that while the results were far beyond what might have been expected, yet they were sufficient to establish a remarkable improvement in the old breed and make of the new breed the best sheep then existing.
It had its faults, however. There were want of constitution, sterility, and inferiority of fleece. These have been amended by Mr. Bakewell's successors in the same line, by most careful selection of rams closely bred from the most satisfactory specimens of the improved flocks. And while, as the case now stands, there has been no breed of long wools that has not been improved by a cross of the new Leicesters, yet this breed with its most excellent qualifications has nothing to gain outside of itself, and have only been retained by preserving this breed pure and unmixed.
The special points of the Leicester are as follows:
The head is hornless, long, small, tapering to the muzzle,
and carried high, projecting forwards horizontally. The eyes are prominent, with a quiet, docile expression. The ears are thin, rather long, and directed backwards. The neck is full and broad at the chest, gradually tapering to the head, and fine at the junction with the head. The back forms a horizontal line from the rump to the head. The breast is broad and full. The shoulders broad and round, without any uneven or angular formation anywhere. The forearm is fleshy down to the knee, the bones are small, the legs standing far apart, no loose skin is visible on them, and are mostly bare of wool. The chest is deep, the barrel round, the ribs spring well arched from the back, and the carcass diminishes evenly from the rump forwards. The pelt is thin, soft, and elastic, and covered with a good quantity of fine white wool, finer in fiber than any other of the long wool breeds. Every one of these fine points in a sheep of surpassing excellence, it is known, was a subject of study by Mr. Bakewell, and was carried through by the choice of any material that offered itself to this great master of breeding.
Later breeders have followed in these lines, with the result that the modern Leicester is a model sheep, a subject for the naturalist and artist to admire, and for the shepherd to make his money out of. This has been used in the refinement of almost every other modern breed, but still something is left for the modern breeder to study over and endeavor to improve.
These are a certain delicacy of constitution, want of sufficient hardiness to withstand exposure, inferior ability to nurse the lambs. There are, however, many modern breeders of thse sheep who have understood this fact, and their efforts are constantly directed to improve on these points, with so far substantial sucess.
The chief value of the breed doubtless lies in the ability to improve others on which the rams are crossed, and the grades of it are quite doubled in value by the first cross. It is the great value of the pure breeds like this to improve inferior sheep, and thus the special breeder is able to perform an invaluable service in affording the opportunities to the ordinary shepherd. This indeed applies to every pure breed of sheep, and on account of the vast labor and the con-
summate skill needed to breed such sheep as this, the shepherd will never be able to dispense with the services of the professional breeder. Of course the grades are the great source of supply of sheep for market and for wool, and these depend on the infusion of pure blood supplied by the professional breeders through their fine rams.
We sometimes hear or read of the Border Leicesters, and some are at a loss to know what kind of sheep this may be. It is at the present time so closely related and similar to the Leicester that it is recognized as such, and no distinction is made as to the special points of each of the two. It is now a class of this breed which is larger in size, not so refined in form, has a somwhat longer and not so fine a fleece. It was formed through a Cotswold cross on the improved Leicesters of Bakewell. It is regarded by some breeders as the finest of this breed, and is preferred for crossing on the common mixed varieties of the common sheep, when size and weight of fleece are desired. Of this cross it is common to rear lambs which make twenty to twenty-five pounds to the quarter at fifteen months old and after good feeding.
Spain has about thirty million sheep of which the most are Merinos. There the ancient fashion of migrating twice a year from the low pastures in the Spring to the mountain ranges in the Fall still exists. This habit is controlled by special laws by which the sheep have a right of way on the public roads in preference to other travelers, and a right of free pasture on the roadsides for two hundred feet on each hand. The herds move under the strict discipline of a leader known as a mayoral, under whose charge there are ten thousand sheep in the drove. The drove is divided into sections of one thousand sheep, over which a capitaz takes charge. A requisite number of shepherds and dogs accompany the drove and stay with the sheep until the season closes, when the flocks are returned to their former ranges. The shepherds are much like those of the French Llandes, wearing jackets of raw sheepskin with the wool outside and rawhide breeches. The jackets are mere skins without sleeves and wrapped around the body.
Spain exports annually about nine million pounds of wool. It is a matter of history that countries which export wool are proportionately deficient in civilization, as may be easily thought when we realize the fact that we import about as much of our whole product, and France imports a large quantity to supply its population with the necessities of a high civilization.
[Illustration: Sheep of the Pyrenees.]
Germany has twenty-eight million sheep, some parts of it exceeding the average number per square mile existing in Great Britain, viz., three hundred. It imports a large quantity of wool for its extensive manufactures. The system of herding sheep on the poor land only has the effect of seriously curtailing the value of this interest, and the native grown wool is of the inferior qualities. But many of the rich land owners possess valuable flocks, especially of the small breeds of Merinos whose fleeces are exceedingly fine but of light weight.
Italy still preserves the ancient fashion of migratory flocks; the sheep so kept are of the Merino variety, of which the largest number make up a majority of the seven million possessed by this nation. In the mountains there are a
large number of sheep having black faces much similar to the flocks of the Scotch Highlands. In Piedmont a race of sheep is kept for the milk. These sheep have hanging ears, a high arched nose, long bare legs, and bodies with scant
[Illustration: Gibralter and East Indian Sheep.]
fleeces. Darwin considered the pendant ears of these and other similar races as a mark of long domestication, as it prevails among the oldest established breeds in those countries in which no modern improvement has been made. The illustration here given of a race of East Indian sheep which is wholly black, and of a pair of sheep from Gibralter in the
[Illustration: Thibet Sheep]
southwest corner of Spain, shows the prevalence in these of the drooping ears. The same is shown by the Thibit sheep.
A curiosity among sheep is the fat-tailed sheep of Angola, and some localities in Asia. The tail consists of a curious lump of fat on an elongated tail containing as many as twenty vertebrae. The tail being considered as a delicacy, is
generally carefully guarded against injury by being supplied with a sort of truck which is drawn about by the animal as it moves. A sheep of this kind bred in Astrachan has black fine frizzled wool, and the skins are highly valued as a fur for the ornament of cloaks and especially for the collars, and a strip down each side of the front and for the cuffs.
The Tunis sheep has been introduced here from its African home, and like all other immigrants is standing on its merits as a valuable acquisition to our varieties. For some time it strove with its new surroundings, on the quite different conditions here from which it had been used to in its native African home, where it was a habitant of the mountain
[Illustration: Fat Tail Sheep]
districts of that part of the dark continent lying to the East of Algeria. Thus Mr. Randall--generally well informed--made the mistake of asserting that this sheep had become extinct, the fact being that its hardy constitution enabled it to overcome difficulties of acclimation, and it still remains as one of our adopted races and is especially now an American sheep.
Its origin is kindly described by Mr. Rountree, of Indiana, who is now the owner of the largest flock in the United States. Mr. Rountree gives the following particulars of the American history of this breed:
"It was introduced here by General Eaton, our Consul at Tunis, who procured a small flock from the Bey and shipped them to Pennsylvania where they came under the care of Judge Peters of Belmont, near Philadelphia. The
[Illustration: Tunis Ram. Bred by Chas. Rountree, Yountsville, Ind.]
sole survivors of the voyage--one pair--became the progenitors of a fine flock of pure blood, the last lamb being brought by a ewe of the age of sixteen years, when the only original pair fell victims to a prowling cur. Mr. Peters bred these sheep for twenty years, during which time several flocks were sent to Virginia, Georgia, and the Carolinas, where they were bred with much success until the war of 1861, when, with other fine flocks in the South, these sheep were practically exterminated, a small remnant only being preserved pure. These few sheep, however, increased in number and specimens of them were exhibited at the World's Fair at Chicago, in 1893. A Mr. Guilliams, of Indiana, purchased four of them from the breeder at Columbia, S.C., and is now breeding them successfully. Mr. Rountree on seeing these sheep went to South Carolina and found only twenty-five of them in existence. Of these he procured ten, and has, as the desendants of these, the largest pure flock in America.
"These sheep are noted for their early maturity, their prolificacy (rearing two sets of lambs in the year), and yielding a fine and long staple of wool. The cross of the rams on our mutton breeds yields an improved fleece and excellent mutton. The mutton of the pure sheep has always been noted for its fine quality, and thus the cross-bred produce is valuable on this account, as well as for the fleece.
"The ewes are good mothers, the lambs have been made to weigh seventy pounds at the age of eighty days. This breed is hardy and of sound constitution, the rams weigh when mature two hundred pounds and the ewes up to a hundred and sixty. The cross of the Tunis and the Merino makes an excellent sheep for every purpose. An association of breeders has been organized, with its headquarters at Fincastle, Ind., and a herd book is regularly published."
Wool is not the sole product of sheep only. There are several related species of the genus, which may be included in the list of wool bearers, the fleeces of which coming into competition with the sheep, are of interest to the shepherd. Of these related species of this genus of the Camelidae, there are the Llama, the Vicuna, the Guanaco, and the Alpaca, all natives of the high mountain region of South
America, in Bolivia and Peru mostly; and some of the goats, especially that known as the Cashmere which is noted for its exquisitely fine and soft wool, and the Angora equally noted for its long silky fleece.
The Alpaca became noted some years ago through the enterprise of Mr. Titus Salt, afterwards made Knight under the title of Sir Titus, by the Queen of England, in recognition and reward for his public service in inaugurating a valuable industry in the manufacture of the hair or wool of the Alpaca. This gave rise to a considerable manufacturing town in Yorkshire, England, where the chief manufacturing industry is based on wool, of which the population at once sprang to several thousand on the establishment of Saltaire, as the town of Mr. Salt's creation was well named.
This animal has been introduced into various countries with the intention to acclimate it, but in every instance these attempts have failed. A few of them were carried into Australia, but--as might be easily thought--with disastrous failure on account of the exceedingly different climate and general environments. The dry climate of that country being so different from the elevated locality to which this animal is naturally suited, it might have been a foregone conclusion that the attempt would be a failure. It has been introduced into France with the same negative result, and the only specimens living, in any foreign country, are those kept in collections of wild animals under special care and culture. Doubtless it might be different in our Pacific caost districts, and the newer states and territories on the Southwest, where there are elevated ranges and a similar climate more in accordance with the natural habits of this animal.
This of course applies to the other races of this interesting genus, the only related species existing in the world. Doubtless there is a profitable field for enterprise in the attempt to naturalize all these members of this race of most useful animals, valuable as beasts of burden, as is its relative the camel, well called the ship of the desert. For this race is used to a dry climate, and has been used for packing ores from the mines near the tops of the Andes over the roughest roads, quite impassable for other beasts, and is able to carry loads of 150 to 200 lbs. with ease. As well as
for this use it affords a valuable fleece, and its flesh is a very desirable addition to our usual bill of fare.
Another animal, or rather race of animals, closely allied to the sheep, is its congener the goat. This tribe is separated into two distinct classes, the short haired and the long haired. Like the sheep the goat is valued for its fleece, and for its flesh and milk. Its milk is the richest of all animals except the whale (which is not a fish but one of the varieties of the mammalia, or milk giving animals). The whale's milk has far more fat in it than that of any other animal, this being about seventeen to eighteen per cent; the milk of the goat has five to seven per cent of pure fat in it, and is thus highly valued for medical purposes, especially as a diet for consumptives. But it is as a wool bearer that we have to consider it in these pages. The finest wool in the world is the under fleece of the Cashmere goat, renowned as the producer of that costly staple of which the most highly valued shawls in the world are made. This animal is a native of Asia, and is reared mostly in Persia, and especially in the Province of Cashmere, although most of the highly valued shawls are not made in that special locality. This valuable part of the fleece is the undergrowth, which is not sheared, but naturally falls off in the spring and is combed out of the upper fleece when it is loosening at its annual period. This wool is exquisitely soft, fine, and silky, having the elasticity of down. The yearly product is quite small, a full grown animal yielding only a few ounces of the best quality of the wool.
So far it has never been thought worthy of culture outside of its native locality, and as it is only profitable for the special purpose of this quite insignificant manufacture, it is scarcely probable that this goat will be worthy of attention here.
The Angora goat, however, is of a different character, and has already been adopted as one of our wool or fleece bearing animals. It is a native of one of the Turkish Provinces, and being the basis of a profitable trade it is jealously guarded, and its exportation is forbidden except under special permits by the Government. At one time the demand
[Illustration: Angora Goat. Bred by C. P. Bailey, San Jose, Cal.]
for these goats was so brisk that the market value of a ram was twelve hundred dollars, and a ewe brought five hundred. The valuable part of its fleece is the outer coat of fine long silky hair, generally of a pure white, but sometimes a light gray. The fleece weighs on an average under eight pounds but as it has no yolk and loses little in its preparation for manufacture, this weight, at the ordinary current prices, is far more profitable than those of the wool of the sheep. Fifteen pounds is the largest weight of fleece reported, this being sheared from an aged ram.
The staple has an average length of ten to twelve inches for the rams, and eight for the ewes, these bearing a much finer and more lustrous wool. There has been much misunderstanding in regard to this and the above named animal, both being included in the common reports made and published a few years ago under the single name of the Cashmere, which, as will be readily perceived from the entire difference between the two, is a distinct misnomer. So that these reports are entirely untrustworthy as regards the high value as alleged of the Angora fleece. Some of these reports stating the value to be six or more dollars a pound for the raw fleece, and the weight of the fleece as ten pounds or more, it is easily perceived how the public may have been deceived into paying exorbitant prices for these animals, and explains the costly disappointments which arose from the deception. These of course at once threw a deep dark cloud over this really valuable animal, and it soon became an object of quite underserved disrespect. Animals that had been purchased for five hundred dollars were quickly sacrificed for a mere trifle, and indeed some were given away, as the easiest method of ridding the unfortunate owners of them.
But more correct information being gained, the goat soon found a place among our wool bearers, and has since that early time been reared with much profit in large flocks, especially on our Western borders, mostly in California, where one of the adjacent islands became a most suitable home for a large flock. It is to be noted that the sheared fleece is not the only source of profit, for the skins are largely used for rugs, for carriages and domestic uses, and are in constantly good demand for these purposes. The fleece,
however, has so many and so valuable uses, that it is in permanent demand as the raw material for a great variety of fabrics, such as shawls, camlets, mohairs, poplins, and other valued dress goods, the direct product of the fleece; while the staple is mixed with wool, cotton, silk, and other materials, imparting a luster and strength to these which greatly adds to the value of the goat's fleece.
This animal is more like the sheep than any other of its tribe, being mostly distinguished from it by its beard, its lopped ears, and the distinctly different form of the horns. Its tail is generally carried erect and on the whole the carriage of the animal is more upright and vivacious than that of the sheep.
Large flocks of this goat are kept in the Southern English settlements in Africa, mostly in the Cape Colony and in Natal, from whence many million pounds of wool are annually exported. It breeds at an early age, often within the first year, and the males have been known to serve ewes at the age of seven months, the ewes being similarly precocious. The ewe frequently bears twins, and quite often triplets, while the more aged ewes have produced four lambs at a birth with two births in a year. The common belief that all these goats have a strong unpleasant scent, is a popular error--the male only being so distinguished--and this only at certain times of the year. The kids make excellent "lamb," and indeed those of all the goat tribe are frequently sold as lambs in the ordinary markets.
Turkey formerly enjoyed the monopoly of the manufacture of these fleeces, but the inevitably successful competition of civilized nations has almost exterminated these old manufactures, and the fleeces are now exported, instead of the finished product of them.
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